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Tracking 'Tweets' to determine political participation

Exchanges on social media platforms, such as Twitter, offer a dynamic glimpse into emerging social phenomena. Social scientists can analyze these exchanges to understand social behaviors that guide political activity and its transmission. However, accessing exchanges on social media platforms and organizing them into manageable datasets is a difficult and complex task.

To address this issue, researchers at New York University's Social Media and Political Participation Lab designed software that extracts meaningful data from multiple platforms and analyzes them to determine political participation and possible motivations for action. The social media analyses tools aim to provide answers to questions such as how do you mobilize a certain population to vote and what are the mechanisms that drive protesting.

The researchers applied the tools to recent social phenomena such as the protests in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut and the protests in Ukraine. The associated analysis revealed insights into political organization and the effects of social media use on participation. In the case of the Ukraine protests, the researchers discovered that the two main reasons for using social media were to organize and motivate others to join the protest.

To learn more, view an analysis of the protests in Ukraine.


Images (1 of )

  • what appears as a celestial event actually is part of a social network dynamics study
  • an illustration of retweets about the 2014 oscars
The Obama-Romney retweet network was part of a study in social network dynamics.
Pablo Barberá, NYU SMaPP Lab
Retweets about the 2014 Academy Awards were part of a study on social network dynamics.
Pablo Barberá, NYU SMaPP Lab

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